The Newseum was in dire financial straits, and needed a way out. Johns Hopkins University had four buildings in Washington, D.C., and was looking to expand its presence in the capital while consolidating into one space. That the Newseum’s prime property is located within blocks of the U.S. Capitol only helped. On Friday, the university announced that it would be buying the 250,000-square-foot building; the museum is now looking for a new home.
In an interview, Ronald Daniels, the president of Johns Hopkins, told me that the purchase is an opportunity to position the university, literally, to better contribute its expertise to national- and international-policy discussions. He emphasized that the school won’t be decamping from its main campus in Baltimore, but that the purchase will give it a more pronounced presence in D.C., which several colleges, including New York University, Arizona State University, and others, have sought to leave their mark on.
Making this acquisition possible is a string of wealthy donors that the university has been cultivating for some time. Daniels confirmed that Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist and a Johns Hopkins alum, will be contributing to the purchase. The remainder of the money will come from the university’s budget and the sale of the institution’s other four properties in the city. Daniels did not disclose how much financial support the university will be receiving from Bloomberg, who has donated billions of dollars to Johns Hopkins over the years and announced a $1.8 billion donation to the school in November. (His contribution to this project will be separate from the November donation.) Daniels did add, however, that Bloomberg is not the only philanthropist who will be financially supporting the purchase.